Plastic surgeon crafts pure goodness
Dr. Frederic Deleyiannis is an artist, pure and simple, though his canvas is not paper or linen, but human beings.
A UCHealth plastic surgeon and otolaryngologist, Deleyiannis toils hours in operating rooms to restore vital function for people whose bodies have been ravaged by trauma or cancer. He helps people who have been deformed by bullets, grizzly bears and cancer at UCHealth Memorial Hospital. As a nationally recognized expert in microvascular surgery, Dr. Deleyiannis’ practice focuses on microsurgery, which is basically a transplant in your own body. He takes tissue, arteries, and veins from a patient’s body and transplants this tissue to rebuild a face, create a breast, or repair an extremity.
For the last 20 years, Deleyiannis has also traveled to Guatemala City to do hundreds of cleft lip and palate surgeries and, more recently, surgeries for children who have severe burns or facial deformities, specifically deformities of the ears.
In the operating room, Deleyiannis fabricates an ear by taking cartilage from a number of ribs and carving them into the shape of an ear. He then covers it with skin and during subsequent surgery, adds more detail and projection to the ear.
He cherishes the time he spends helping children in Guatemala. Often, the kids are between the ages of 8 and 10 when Deleyiannis performs their first surgery. Almost all of them would have no access to reconstructive plastic surgery if not for the goodwill of Deleyiannis.
“I do it because I have an obligation to provide the care that I’m well trained in. I do it because I enjoy it. It provides some inherent goodness; it’s as simple as that,’’ Deleyiannis said.
In recent years, Deleyiannis has traveled to Guatemala with other UCHealth physicians, including Dr. Nancy Wong, a plastic surgeon and Dr. Keyan Riley, a trauma and acute care surgeon. Anesthesiologists from Children’s Hospital Colorado have also joined the trips. The John Lester Foundation pays travel and other expenses for the physicians and the patients.
Rebuilding a child’s deformed ears, Deleyiannis said, provides a psychological benefit for children because it gives them a more normal appearance. For children who are burned and are constricted because of a build-up of scar tissue, Deleyiannis restores movement and appearance. One of the main advantages is psycho-social: “There is comfort in the knowledge that people care about them.’’
Each year, whether the children need follow-up surgery or not, they return to Moore Surgery Center to see Deleyiannis and the other doctors.
“I reassure them that they will be fine,’’ he said. “It’s old-school medicine, providing long-term follow-up so patients know that we will be back to help them if they have any concerns. They come for that and it is therapy in itself.”
“It’s just the right thing to do.’’